Thursday, February 25, 2010

Long time no post!

This is getting to be a really bad habit... I have to get back into the blogging "groove" - sorry for the silence here - it's been a crazy, hectic month. So, here's a start on it... Thursday the 11th was a holiday so none of us had to go to school. We took Yuki (the dietician) with us and went to Sapporo to see the snow festival. Pictures to be posted... (eventually!) It takes about an hour and a half to get to Sapporo so we left fairly early and managed to find a parking spot fairly close to the main park. The sculptures were huge and very impressive. It was a fun day but very cold. Ian managed to crutch himself all around the park and was quite exhausted by the end. We decided to skip the other two sites and went looking for a place that sells vegetarian food. We eventually found it but they were closed. We were looking for stuff for Joisan to be able to take to school for those days when they are serving meat for lunch. Anyway, we’ve made arrangements to get some of their stuff sent. The next day (Friday) was Yuki’s birthday so Naoko and Yuki and I went out to Wasabi for dinner to celebrate. As soon as I walked in to the restaurant the owner/manager presented me with a souvenir of the restaurant. It’s gold paper that has been cut out in sections to look like a traditional Japanese fish. The work that clearly went into making it is remarkable! Saturday the 13th we watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. It was pretty cool to see so much familiar scenery! Joisan and I had to leave before it was over to get to ballet but we enjoyed what we saw. When we got home from ballet, Ian and I headed back to Date to go out to dinner. We went to Wasabi again - it's definatly my favourite restaurant - and we enjoyed a quiet time with just the two of us. Living in such close quarters with the kids so limited in their social life definately leaves us with very little "us" time. We thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the time together. I've been working on making scripts out of two Robert Munsch books for the grade 1 and 2 classes at the Chugakko to do for the Shogakko. We've worked through the textbook now and the plays will give something to focus on for the next three weeks. I'm pretty excited about it!
On Wednesday Feb. 17th Joisan slipped on her way into the car after ballet and Ian wound up taking her to the hospital to get her right wrist examined. It was late and they didn't have the proper bone guy on but the pediatrician put her in a splint and told her to come back the next day. Despite multiple x-rays they still weren't sure if it was fractured or not until yesterday at the check up. It is of course. So, she's again limited in her activites until she can heal properly.
She was quite devastated since we had been planning for her to go skiing with the community trip last Sunday. Taran still went (snowboarding) and had a marvellous time! Naoko stuck with him for the day and she said he did really well and went very fast! While they were at the mountain I went with Hiro to Costco (finally!) and invested in a whole bunch of stuff we haven't been able to get cost effectively anywhere else. I picked up oatmeal, refried beans, cheddar cheese, mushroom soup, brown rice and much much more! Somewhere along the way I picked up a bug though because on the way home I got quite ill. I wound up staying home sick on Monday and Tuesday and then working from home Wednesday and part of Thursday.
It warmed up a lot yesterday and the snow started to melt! There are puddles and lakes everywhere surrounded by slush! There is still lots of snow but I have hope now that spring will one day arrive! It even rained last night! I did a happy rain dance this morning when I got up and it was still raining!
We have an action packed weekend with the Sobetsu International Snowball Fight, ballet, and a Sunday hike to the ice caves near Ootaki. Joisan has seperate plans with two friends this week and Taran is considering inviting someone to go to a movie next weekend.
Sorry about the novel - if you've waded this far I salute you! I promise to write more often and therefore avoid the War and Peace length blogs in the future!
Love to all.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Up to our Armpits in SNOW!

It seems as though it never stops snowing here. I really do have photos that I will try and post tomorrow. It's hard to believe we've been back for a month now - I can't be sure if the time goes so fast because I'm enjoying it so much or if it's just that I'm getting old!
The ski marathon was fun - Ian and I decked ourselves out with hand and foot and body warmers stuck in every nook and cranny before venturing out to stand around in the snow for hours. The kids reluctantly strapped on their skis and headed out with all the other students in the school. I am proud to say that they both finished their 6km and Joisan managed to be the first one from the school to cross the finish line! Yuki (the dietician) was sticking with her and she found herself exhausted from the pace that Joisan set!
Because they had to do the marathon on Sunday, the kids had the day off of school yesterday. I, unfortunately, still had to go to Tatsunan. I did manage to arrange to meet my friend Mayu for lunch in Date though. She took me to a little "Italian" place not far from city hall. (I put "Italian" in quotes because although they serve pasta and risotto they do it with a decidedly Japanese flair! Not what I'm used to referring to as "Italian"!)
Anyway, tomorrow the grade 6's are coming from the Elementary School to visit the grade 7's and see what Jr. High is all about. Thursday is a holiday and I think we're going to Sapporo to check out the snow festival. We're also really looking forward to the International Snowball Fight in Sobetsu on Feb 27 and 28. After that I'm really hoping that the snow will just go away!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Magical Evening in Otaki

Last night I made an attempt to cross country ski. I figured my back was on the mend and if there was any chance of my participating in the marathon on Sunday it would be wise to have at least strapped on the skis once before going 6km! Unfortunately I didn't have the correct knee brace with me and consequently I felt very unstable so I basically froze and couldn't relax into any rhythm or anything. I found myself going down a slight incline and before I was all the way to the bottom I found myself flat on my back gazing up at the beautiful starry sky! I made a snap decision that the marathon is not for me this year! I was feeling fairly down about it so Hiro and Naoko and I went out for sushi at a place called Wasabi in Date. It was really fun and the sushi was yummy!
Tonight I went to a reception for the start of the ski marathon. Actually, I went this afternoon with Hiro while she rehearsed her Yosakoi dancing group who were performing at the reception tonight. After the rehearsal we went to the Onsen for a bath. I haven't been in the Onsen since before we left for Christmas and there was no snow then so this was really magical. The world all around the bath was white and icy and the bath was hot and it just felt so lovely! It started to snow big, fluffy, fat flakes while we were sitting there. We stayed in for quite a while and made a plan to come back later, after the reception.
The reception was fun. The Finnish ambasador and his wife were there and my friend Mayu from Date City Hall was there to translate. Hiro and I gorged ourselves on sashimi and crepes - yummy! I spoke with several people who I hadn't met before, including a man who may have a connection for Ian to get a job! After we closed down that party Hiro and I joined another party - several people from Otaki had rented a Karaoke room and asked us to join them. We went in only for a couple of songs - one of the guys sang "You Are My Sunshine" to me - and then we headed back to the bath.
When we got outside it had stopped snowing and was now clear! The stars were amazing and then because it was a special occasion (the start of the marathon) they had fireworks that we could see from the water! Just at the end of the fireworks it began to snow again - just a little bit - but you could still see the stars! What a magical night!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sorry 'bout the time delay!!!

Contrary to what some may believe, we are all still alive and well. Appologies for a lack of communication both on the blog and by email... I hurt my back quite badly last week and wound up flat out and drugged up for whatever time I was at home. I guess I just wanted a hospital visit and a bit of attention too! I'm pretty bummed about it because while the kids have been warming up for the ski marathon this weekend I haven't yet put on a pair of skis :( I'm still hoping that I'll be able to stretch out and do enough practice this weekend that I can participate on Sunday.

We're all back into the regular routines - school, conversation classes, ballet, regular trips to the hospital. Poor Ian, he's still got 6 or 8 weeks in his contraption that they built for him. I will take some pictures and get them posted - I promise!

We had a meeting yesterday with a representative of the school board from Date and a bunch of people from the Otaki office. We had been told that the meeting was about my salary changing but it turned out to be all about brainstorming ways to make it work for us to stay. They wanted to hear directly from us that we want to stay and then what we needed in order to make it happen. We have been told that Ian can work up to 28 hours a week so we're keeping our feelers out for something he can do that would earn him enough so we can stay.

Today I went to the kindergarten for a special event. Setsubun is a festival held every February 3rd or 4th (one day before the start of spring according to the Japanese lunar calendar) The short explanation is that children throw soybeans at the 'evil spirits' to drive them away. At the kindergarten/daycare centre today we (all the children and I ) threw soybeans at two people who were dressed up as evil spirits and then one of the staff and I tossed peanuts and candy into the air for the children to gather - all the while calling "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" ("Devils out, happiness in!") It was totally fun and I've got some great photos which I will post (promise!) Taran was the devil for his class and had peanuts thrown at him!

On Monday at ballet Joisan hurt her foot again so she didn't ski with her class yesterday. She was fairly bummed but luckily it was feeling a bit better this morning so she's going to try going to ballet again today. Hopefully it will be okay.

Taran has decided that he's in need of a haircut so he's invited Hiro to come over an give him a buzz cut tonight. Photos to come! Ian is taking Joisan to ballet tonight while I do the adult conversation class so I'm off to do some planning. Thanks for the emails and comments everyone - it's great to hear from you!